Proposal to restrict alcohol sales thrown out of Union council

A proposal to significantly restrict alcohol sales and confine Union club nights to the weekends has been thrown out of Union Council.

Mature Undergraduate Councillor, Alexzander Swatton, 36, outlined the proposal at last week’s meeting only to have it quashed by several councillors, including Finance Officer Martin Bailey, who labelled the potential measures “extreme”.

Council instead unanimously decided to form a select committee to discuss the matter further, with the view of presenting revised proposals at future meetings.

Before submitting a two-page document in support of his recommendations, Swatton said: “There is an evident problem in the UK as a whole.

“I know people are going to mention civil liberties and students do have the right to drink.

“But one student’s right to drink also affects another student’s right to sleep.”

Swatton, who used to work as a barman, went on to describe how potential assaults at the Edge and other University accommodation could be prevented if alcohol consumption amongst the student community was reduced.

He added that societies should be banned from offering alcohol incentives to attend their opening social events and that the use of “hedonistic and misguiding terms” such as “Exam Slam” and “Refreshers Week” should not be used to promote Union events.

But Martin Bailey explained that whilst the proposals outlined some of the Union’s weaknesses on alcohol policy, the measures would be too extreme to implement.

He contested Swatton’s view that alcohol should only be sold at the Union after 6pm on weekdays.

Bailey said: “If we don’t open Bar One until after 6pm then we won’t be recognised by our competitors.

“They will not look to us to make that moral change.

“The average spend in Population is £2.92. People are not going there to drink.

“They are buying from off-licenses.”

Bailey did admit that some areas needed to be addressed.
He said: “I do agree that there is work to be done with societies and drinking promotions in clubs.”

In the annual financial report for 2008/2009, it was revealed that the Union’s bars had a commercial turnover of almost £4,500,000 – constituting nearly half of the Union’s total annual turnover.

But this included a seven per cent drop in alcohol sales from the last financial year.

Bailey thinks this dip in sales is as a result of students “becoming more health conscious” and drinking less frequently, but also because many are choosing to drink at home more and go out later in the evenings.

The news comes as a recent Union survey suggests that 51.2 per cent of University of Sheffield students believe they drink more sensibly than the average student.

Of the 2,623 students polled, 12.4 per cent claimed they do not drink at all, whilst 74.2 per cent said they had formed their view of student drinking from media perceptions before they arrived at University.

Council voted to form a select committee to discuss the issue of alcohol sales at the Union and the promotion of Union club nights further.

The seven select committee members were voted in at council.

They are: Martin Bailey, Finance Officer; Jennifer Hastings, Welfare Officer; Claire Monk, Activities Officer; Alexzander Swatton, Mature Students Councillor; Charlotte Tobin, History Councillor; Peter Lennox, Biblical Studies Councillor and Ian Jacobs, School of Health and Related Research (SCHARR) Councillor.

On hearing that his proposal had been thrown out, Swatton said: “I did fully expect it to be rejected.”


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